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May 14, 2017

Sunday Morning Book Thread 05-14-2017

stacks of books.jpg
Does This Library Look Like Yours?

Good morning to all you 'rons, 'ettes, lurkers, and lurkettes. Welcome once again to the stately, prestigious, internationally acclaimed and high-class Sunday Morning Book Thread, where men are men, all the 'ettes are gorgeous, safe spaces are underneath your house and are used as protection against actual dangers, like natural disasters, or Literally Hitler, and special snowflakes do not last. And unlike other AoSHQ comment threads, the Sunday Morning Book Thread is so hoity-toity, pants are required. Even if it's these pants, which are kind of, you know, suggestive.

Pic Note

Books to the Ceiling
--by Arnold Lobel

Books to the ceiling,
Books to the sky,
My pile of books is a mile high.
How I love them!
How I need them!
I'll have a long beard
by the time I read them.

Arnold Lobel was the author of some really good children's books that I highly recommend for those of you with little kids or grandkids that you will enjoy as much as they do, among them the adventures of Frog and Toad, and Mouse Tales.

Because Who Doesn't Love Cookies?

Cookies are my thing, and several years ago I was asked to make some for our library's grand opening. The theme I went with was children's books. Put together a list of a hundred book titles to write on the cookies, and made character cookies from about a dozen of them. Here's a link to the library's photo stream. There are 11 pictures, but you have to click through a couple of pages where Flickr puts an ad telling you they're ad-free.


Posted by: NavyMom at April 30, 2017 10:52 AM (Oelm8)

Those cookies do look good.

It Pays To Increase Your Word Power®

An AGINATOR is someone who sells trivial things.

Usage: "Brian Stelter, CNN's fake news analyst and chief aginator, AKA The Human Thumb, was arrested late last night for mopery with intent to gawk."

Bill Clinton Fiction

Now that he can no longer make speeches at $500,000 a pop to bring in money to a sleazy foundation ran by, and is exclusively for the enrichment of, his corrupt harridan wife, former President Bill Clinton has found something else to do other than molesting star-struck interns.

Writing fiction:

Former President Bill Clinton and author James Patterson are collaborating on a thriller novel set to be published in June 2018 titled The President Is Missing

Makes me wonder what his advance will be. The article doesn't say. The title, though, is reminscent of the vintage political thriller, The President's Plane is Missing, by Robert Sterling, first published in 1973, and still in print. But getting back to Clinton:

Knopf and Little, Brown released a joint statement on Monday, calling the book, "a unique amalgam of intrigue, suspense, and behind-the-scenes global drama from the highest corridors of power. It will be informed by details that only a president can know."

In other words, a standard political thriller. But, on the bright side, Patterson's a competent writer who knows what he's doing. He is a prolific author who has written a seemingly infinite number of books and by the time it has taken you to read this, he probably will have published one or two new ones. But I'm honestly not sure what Clinton could add to this that isn't classified. Making phone calls from the Oval Office? Talking to other world leaders? Hitting on the office staff?

Barack Obama Non-Fiction

There is a massive new (1,400+ pages) Obama biography that was just published last Tuesday. Rising Star: The Making of Barack Obama is available on Kindle for $24.99.

Via Powerline, which links to a lengthy, in-depth review over oat The National Laughingstock.

Rising Star is written by MLK biographer David Garrow, who

...portrays Obama as a man who ruthlessly compartmentalized his existence; who believed early on that he was fated for greatness; and who made emotional sacrifices in the pursuit of a goal that must have seemed unlikely to everyone but him. Every step — whether his foray into community organizing, Harvard Law School, even his choice of whom to love — was not just about living a life but about fulfilling a destiny.

The big takeaway in the review seems to be that a young Barak Obama may have dumped his longtime girlfriend (Sheila Miyoshi Jager, now a professor at Oberlin College), who was basically his fiancé, for political reasons:

A close mutual friend of the couple recalls Obama explaining that “the lines are very clearly drawn. . . . If I am going out with a white woman, I have no standing here.” And friends remember an awkward gathering at a summer house, where Obama and Jager engaged in a loud, messy fight on the subject for an entire afternoon. (“That’s wrong! That’s wrong! That’s not a reason,” they heard Jager yell from their guest room, their arguments punctuated by bouts of makeup sex.) Obama cared for her, Garrow writes, “yet he felt trapped between the woman he loved and the destiny he knew was his.”

Here's an anecdote from Obama's time at Harvard Law School:

In his late 20s now and slightly older than most classmates, he had a compulsion to orate in class and summarize other people’s arguments for them. “In law school the only thing I would have voted for Obama to do would have been to shut up,” one student told Garrow. Classmates created a Obamanometer, ranking “how pretentious someone’s remarks are in class.”

I have to remind myself, just because this plays bigly into my confirmation bias doesn't mean it's false.

The good news here is that I don't think it's going to be a slobbering hagiography. Lord knows we've seen enough of that to last a lifetime.

One last bit from Powerline on Obama's erstwhile girlfriend:

Sheila Miyoshi Jager...was basically written out of Dreams From My Father, Obama’s “autobiography.” She is compressed into a single character along with two prior Obama girlfriends.

Exit question: Ms. Jager, how do you feel about being literally written out of Obama's life?

Counting Cards

Kevin Blackwood is a guy I used to know who was a professional gambler. What's weird was that I met him in the Bible study group I was in at the time. And he wasn't an ex-gambler who had reformed, no, he was still earning money by gambling. His specialty was blackjack and naturally, he had a card counting system. I used to go over to his house and he'd be running computer blackjack simulations where he would vary this or that initial condition so he could measure changes in the outcome. He may have been a gambler but he took extraordinary steps to reduce his chances of losing.

He was no longer welcome in any of the casinos he might've wanted to play in the United States due to being thrown out of all of them for card counting. I asked him about trying his hand at any of the new (back then) casinos on reservation land that were springing up all over, but he just laughed and said no, all of those casinos don't have to compete, since there aren't any others close by (unlike Los Vegas, for example) so they've got the odds cranked so far in their favor that it's impossible to devise a winning system.

So he's had to seek out casinos with better odds in far-off countries and he has sometimes found himself in dodgy situations where concepts such as "the rule of law" aren't exactly inscribed into the culture. Remember that scene in the opening chapters of the first Stainless Steel Rat book where DiGriz Deathworld book where dinAlt found himself being chased by bad guys after he won big at the casino? Well, it wasn't exactly like that, but it was sometimes kind of like that.

Anyway, much to the relief of his wife, Blackwood is more or less retired now, and no longer is gone for weeks at a time. But he has written a book that details his card-counting system, Play Blackjack Like the Pros:

Play Blackjack Like the Pros is the requisite introduction to the modern game of blackjack, including high and low stakes casino, shoe games (several decks shuffled together), online, and tournaments. Blackwood begins with the basic rules of play and then moves on to teach his proven card-counting method, broken-down into three levels: novice, recreational, and professional. He also covers camouflaging techniques (it's perfectly legal to count cards, but if the house catches you they will kick you out), money management, and team play. Blackwood includes many stories of his and other professionals' triumphs at the tables and keeps the highly technical language that bogs down most gaming books to an absolute minimum

This kind of makes it kind of sound like anybody could do this, but I don't know. I know *I* don't have the head for this sort of thing, and Blackwood is way over on the right side of the IQ curve, so it probably sounds a bit more easier than it actually is.

He's also written a novel, The Counter, based no doubt on his experiences winning money at blackjack and dodging the surveillance experts at casinos.

And I never knew this, but apparently Blackwood has written Casino Gambling For Dummies, and now i wonder how he scored a "...for Dummies" authorship gig?

I've heard that the only games you have a possibility of winning at (other than the occasional one-off jackpot) are craps, blackjack, and poker. All the other games, roulette, slots, keno, should be avoided. Me, I avoid them all, because I've never enjoyed gambling.


I also heard this week from moron author John Campbell who's written his own poker-themed novel on Smashwords, The Man From P.I.S.S. (Poker Investigations, Sensible Solutions), which is about

...a very clever poker playing detective catching out those who would cheat or otherwise abuse the game of poker. Did I mention that he is a "cheater" himself? An amusing and well thought out collection.

Available for 99 cents at Smashwords.

I like Campbell's Smashwords interview. Guy sounds like a real Moron™.

Blue Skies Cities Short Stories Contest

Get your entries in:

The 2017 Futurescapes Writing Contest is now open to submissions of sci-fi short stories. The contest offers a $2,000 grand prize.

There's also five $500 runner-up prizes.

For 2017, the Futurescapes Contest theme is “Blue Sky Cities.” We’re seeking stories set in a near-future city where significant strides have been made toward improving air quality, climate adaptation, or even net positive impacts on climate and air quality.

The deadline to enter is October 13, 2017.

Submission guidelines and other pertinent details are available on their website here.

(h/t Anna Puma)

Moron Recommendations

Moron commenter Hrothgar recommends The Midnight Plan of the Repo Man by W. Bruce Cameron. He says "I found the book to be a pretty good read for pure entertainment, lots of twists and turns, plus some off-beat humor. I think many of the Horde would enjoy it as a way to pass the time."

Amazon blurb says:

Ruddy McCann, former college football star, has experienced a seismic drop in popularity; he is now Kalkaska, Michigan's full-time repo man and part-time bar bouncer. His best friend is his low-energy Basset hound Jake, with whom he shares a simple life of stealing cars.

Simple, that is, until Ruddy starts hearing a voice in his head.

The voice introduces himself as Alan Lottner, a dead realtor. Ruddy isn't sure if Alan is real, or if he's losing his mind. To complicate matters, it turns out Katie, the girl he's fallen for, is Alan's daughter.

And, as the poet says, zany hijinks ensue.

$7.99 on Kindle.


And CBD checks in with a recommendation for Dreadnought: Britain, Germany, and the Coming of the Great War by Robert Massie, a bit of military/political history by Robert Massie:

Massie's sweeping narrative centers around the naval rivalry between Britain and Germany after the death of Queen Victoria in 1901, highlighting it as one of the major tensions that led to the World War I. He recounts how Admiral John Fisher revolutionized the Royal Navy with the construction of the first modern battleship, H.M.S. Dreadnought, in 1906, and how Britain's "splendid isolation" ended when Fisher's German counterpart Admiral Alfred Tirpitz carried out Kaiser Wilhelm's directives for the construction of an equally modern German navy. The author describes the development of Wilhelm's self-described "peculiar passion for the navy," nurtured during frequent boyhood visits to the seaside retreat of his beloved grandmother, Queen Victoria, on the Isle of Wight, into a dangerous resolve to turn Germany into a major naval, colonial and commercial power.

CBD adds:

Fun fact: when my family moved back to NY from Michigan, we rented [Massie's] house in Irvington for the summer while my parents house-hunted. It had an elevator and two staircases!

Sounds like fun. What was he like?

And...he was a bit of a d*ck.

Alrighty then.

Massie's history is currently at $1.99 for the Kindle edition, but I don't know how long that price will last.


Don't forget the AoSHQ reading group on Goodreads. It's meant to support horde writers and to talk about the great books that come up on the book thread. It's called AoSHQ Moron Horde and the link to it is here: https://www.goodreads.com/group/show/175335-aoshq-moron-horde.


So that's all for this week. As always, book thread tips, suggestions, bribes, rumors, threats, and insults may be sent to OregonMuse, Proprietor, AoSHQ Book Thread, at the book thread e-mail address: aoshqbookthread, followed by the 'at' sign, and then 'G' mail, and then dot cee oh emm.

What have you all been reading this week? Hopefully something good, because, as you all know, life is too short to be reading lousy books.

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posted by OregonMuse at 08:59 AM

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